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Queens Chronicle

Affordable housing set for Flushing

A municipal parking lot will be latest development in downtown area

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Posted: Tuesday, July 22, 2014 10:22 am | Updated: 11:28 am, Thu Jul 31, 2014.

Up to 200 units of mixed-income, affordable housing could be in the offing for Municipal Parking Lot 3 in Downtown Flushing.

Last week, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development announced a request for proposals for the project located on 41st Avenue, between Main Street and College Point Boulevard.

The 43,200-square-foot site abuts the Long Island Rail Road station and has 156 parking spaces. HPD documents indicate that the developer should include replacing the parking.

Would-be developers must include retail or community facility space “and provide much-needed affordable housing that is transit-oriented,” according to HPD.

The project will include low-, moderate- and middle-income apartments. The city agency wants to rezone the area R7X, which allows for greater height and bulk, usually in a nine- to 13-story building. It is now zoned C4-2, which is used in dense commercial centers.

The rezoning will require the developer to go through the Uniform Land Use Review Process, and, along with HPD approvals, is expected to take a year. The proposals are due Oct. 10.

As a major incentive, the city is offering the property for $1 to the winning developer.

“We expect the development community to bring us proposals that are carefully and  creatively crafted to enhance the existing neighborhood, which is one of the most diverse and vibrant in the city,” said HPD Commissioner Vicki Been.

“In addition to creating new affordable housing for households across a range of incomes, we are seeking a mix of innovative design with community and retail uses that will make the most of this exciting development opportunity,” Been added.

In 2010, former Borough President Claire Shulman announced planning for the project as head of the Flushing, Willets Point, Corona Local Development Corp. It is a Transportation Opportunity Development project to make the LIRR more accessible to affordable housing.

The LIRR will add elevators and modernize the station next year. “It’s long overdue,” Shulman said by phone on Monday. “The three flights of stairs are just awful.”

She called the nearby No. 7 subway “grossly overused” and the hope is the revitalized LIRR station will make it more popular with the public to use in the future.

Shulman does not believe the housing structure will be too tall due to FAA height restrictions over locations near LaGuardia Airport.

“I’m excited about this project moving forward,” she added.

Last December, the city held a community visioning meeting to see what the public wanted for the site. Affordable housing, especially for seniors, was favored along with a primary care clinic and a school.

The RFP developer selection is expected to be announced by the winter. After approvals are granted, the city estimates, the actual building process could take between 18 and 24 months.

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